Wall Street advances as Fed's Powell soothes inflation worries

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Shares on Wall Street rallied on Wednesday, with the Dow hitting a record high, as a selloff in technology-related stocks eased and a rotation into cyclical shares continued after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments calmed inflation worries.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A view of the exterior of the Nasdaq market site in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Nasdaq index, which traded as much as 1.3% lower earlier in the session, regained its footing by early afternoon and moved higher.

Powell told lawmakers on Wednesday it may take more than three years to reach the central bank’s inflation goals, a sign the Fed plans to look beyond any post-pandemic spike in prices and leave interest rates unchanged for a long time to come.

King Lip, chief investment strategist at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco, said Powell’s remark was a factor in the market on Wednesday.

“The market is very concerned about inflation and the rise in interest rates. But that’s in contrast to what the Fed is saying,” he added.

Value-oriented stocks have enjoyed a bit of a bounce recently, with the S&P 500 Value index rising for a fourth straight day.

The S&P 500 financial sector jumped 2.1% after earlier hitting an all-time peak, while other cyclical stocks including industrials, energy and materials also rose.

The S&P 500 Growth index, housing most of the high-flying technology-related stocks, has come under pressure in the last few days due to valuation concerns, elevated Treasury yields and an investment shift into more economy-sensitive parts of the market.

Microsoft Corp, Inc and Apple Inc were down roughly between 0.3% and 1%, while Facebook, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc reversed earlier declines.

“What’s happening is just a little bit of a shift out of growth and into value but today things are going slightly back to normal and you have a little bit more moving into growth as well,” said David Yepez, lead equity analyst and portfolio manager at Exencial Wealth Advisors.

Growth-oriented stocks are particularly sensitive to rising yields as their value rests heavily on future earnings, which are discounted more deeply when bond returns go up.

Tesla Inc gained 4.1% after star investor Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest fund bought a further $171 million worth of the company’s shares in the wake of a sharp fall in the electric-car maker’s stock.

In mid-afternoon trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 427.47 points, or 1.36%, to 31,964.82, the S&P 500 gained 42.06 points, or 1.08%, to 3,923.43 and the Nasdaq Composite added 87.65 points, or 0.65%, to 13,552.85.

All three main indexes were on track to post strong monthly gains, with the Dow and the S&P 500 set for their best month since November.

Lowe’s Cos Inc slid 3.2% as it stuck by its 2021 outlook of a $4 billion to $8 billion drop in revenue, even after reporting blow-out fourth quarter results.

Uber Technologies Inc dropped 3.1% after a media report that Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co Ltd plans to enter Western Europe.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.16-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.78-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 98 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 252 new highs and four new lows.

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